Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Slippery Slope That Leads To BDS

By Cernig

Amnesty International describes the problem - a slippery slope that leaves the shining citadel besmirched and in the mire:
It is a disturbing spectacle to witness US officialdom tying itself in knots over torture. On the one hand the President claims that his country is leading the global struggle against torture. On the other, he authorizes a secret detention program in which detainees can be held for years entirely incommunicado and subjected to "enhanced" interrogation techniques. Meanwhile, other officials are quick to promote "American values", yet slow to recognize torture when it is described to them or to condemn torture as a matter of principle. The moral high ground, it seems, is surrounded by particularly slippery slopes these days.

It should be straightforward. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are prohibited, full stop. There are no circumstances -- war or threat of war, emergency or threat of emergency -- that can be used to justify violating this ban. Every human being has the right to be free from torture or other ill-treatment -- whether citizen or alien, whether suspected of a crime or not, whether labelled as "the enemy" or not. Torture is wrong, whatever motivates it and whoever authorizes it. The "ticking bomb" scenario -- the hypothesis put forward to seek to justify one-off torture to extract information about an imminent attack -- is a crude device improvised to manipulate public fears. There is no such thing as one-off torture; torture all too easily seeps across the moral and legal landscape. If used to obtain information, rather than purely to humiliate the individual or spread fear in the community, that information cannot be trusted, let alone used in a fair trial. Torture is an injustice, not a route to justice. It is a threat to long-term security, not a means to win hearts and minds.
And Sully presents the definitive rebuttal of "BDS!" cries, which is that outrage is the only correct response:
Hatred is a strong word and a clouding emotion. But sustained outrage isn't. One can forgive any president for mistakes - even catastrophic mistakes, as in the intelligence for and execution of the Iraq war. But to have trashed the constitution's balance, violated core values of due process and decency, polluted our intelligence in ways that deeply undermine national security, and deliberately divided a country for partisan advantage in wartime - these are not mere mistakes. And anger is not an irrational, let alone, insane response.
What Sully said.

(H/T Matt at CFLF)

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